Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

December Green (Committee Chair), Vaughn Shannon (Committee Member), Julianne Weinzimmer (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Throughout the course of history, literature and examination on the impact of civil war has focused little on women, especially in the cases of wartime rape. While the factors which sustain wartime rape are examined with frequency, using gender as an analytical lens, the analysis regarding post-conflict sexual violence and rape is studied far less, leading to the question: what factors are correlated with the continuance of widespread acts of rape even after the cessation of official conflict? Liberia and Sierra Leone suffered high levels of both wartime rape and also post-conflict sexual violence. This comparative case study, using process tracing and the congruence method tests the hypothesis that governments in which there are high levels of female representation will be associated with lower levels of impunity for sexual assault and this will result in lower levels of sexual violence. This study finds that the presence of a female head of state in Liberia does not simply equate to lower levels of sexual violence. The existence of a female president does not necessarily reflect (or translate into) changed gender relations. The passing of laws and the implementation of these laws, such as those in Sierra Leone, will affect women's lives more positively.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Political Science

Year Degree Awarded